Shiitake Mushrooms: Nutrition Facts and Potential Benefits

0
13637
Last Updated on

Several Dried Shiitake Mushrooms on a White Surface.Shiitake mushrooms are an interesting food with several potential benefits.

These edible mushrooms have a decent nutritional profile and contain some beneficial compounds.

Added to that, shiitake mushrooms taste delicious too. With a meaty and flavorful taste, they work well in a wide range of dishes.

This article examines the full nutrition profile and some potential benefits of shiitake mushrooms.

What Are Shiitake Mushrooms?

Pronounced ‘She-takki,’ Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are native to East Asia and they enjoy popularity in China, Japan, and Korea.

Long considered a medicinal mushroom due to their health-promoting compounds, shiitake mushrooms have featured in traditional Eastern medicine for hundreds of years.

Despite their traditional roots, commercial production of shiitake mushrooms now occurs all around the world.

In their whole food form, we can buy shiitake mushrooms either fresh or dried.

Key Point: Shiitake mushrooms are a delicious and healthy mushroom native to the Far East. However, they are now found throughout the world.

Nutrition Facts

Shiitake mushrooms offer a lot nutritionally, and they provide a wide range of nutrients.

The tables below show the nutritional values for both the fresh (cooked) and dried forms per 100 grams (1, 2).

Calories and Macronutrients

Nutrient(Fresh)(Dried)
Calories56 kcal296 kcal
Carbohydrate14.4 g75.4 g
 – Fiber2.1 g11.5 g
 – Sugar3.6 g2.2 g
Fat0.2 g1.0 g
 – Saturated Fat0.1 g0.2 g
 – Monounsaturated Fat0.1 g0.3 g
 – Polyunsaturated Fat0.0 g0.2 g
Protein1.6 g9.6 g

As shown above, the dried mushrooms are much denser in calories and carbohydrates.

Fresh shiitake mushrooms contain 14.4 grams of carbohydrate, as well as small amounts of fat and protein.

Vitamins

VitaminFresh (% DV)Dried (% DV)
Vitamin B536 %219 %
Riboflavin10 %75 %
Niacin7 %71 %
Vitamin B68 %48 %
Folate5 %41 %
Vitamin B12 %20 %
Vitamin C0 %6 %
Vitamin DVariesVaries

Shiitake mushrooms supply a decent source of B vitamins.

The vitamin D content will depend on how much sun exposure the mushrooms had during their growth.

Minerals

MineralFresh (% DV)Dried (% DV)
Copper45 %258 %
Selenium35 %66 %
Manganese10 %59 %
Zinc9 %51 %
Potassium3 %44 %
Magnesium3 %33 %
Phosphorus3 %29 %
Iron2 %10 %
Calcium0 %1 %
Key Point: Shiitake mushrooms supply a decent range of micronutrients and provide an excellent source of copper and selenium.

Potential Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms

A Straw Basket Containing Dried Shiitake Mushrooms.Some of the benefits these mushrooms offer come from their nutrient profile, and others result from the chemical compounds the mushrooms contain.

Here is an overview of the potential benefits.

1. Potential Benefits For the Immune System

According to a recent trial, long-term intake of shiitake mushrooms may have a beneficial effect on the immune system.

In a randomized, dietary intervention, fifty-two healthy people consumed either 5 or 10 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms every day for four weeks.

Before and after the trial, the researchers drew blood samples, and the results demonstrated that regularly consuming the mushrooms reduced CRP levels (a marker of inflammation).

Additionally, markers of gut immunity and cell proliferation both improved over the 4-week period (3).

However, it should be noted that this is one single study, and further research is necessary to give the findings more credence.

Key Point: In a randomized interventional study, a small number of shiitake mushrooms improved several markers of immunity.

2. Shiitake Mushrooms Contain Anti-Cancer Compounds

Shiitake mushrooms contain various compounds that research demonstrates as having anti-cancer effects in cell and animal studies.

Among these compounds is lentinan, a type of beta-glucan polysaccharide that displays antitumor activity (4).

Notably, research on this compound has shown that high-dose extracts can “significantly decrease” the proliferation (spread) of specific types of cancer cells (5, 6).

These anti-tumor compounds have also displayed beneficial effects in animal studies (7).

However, it is important that we view these findings in the correct way: they show that these compounds can have anti-cancer effects in cell studies.

What happens in cells and within the human body are two different things, and thus high-quality clinical trials would be needed to confirm these findings are relevant to human health.

On this note, Cancer Research UK notes that “there is no evidence mushrooms or mushroom extract can prevent or cure cancer” (8).

3. Rich Source of Copper

Shiitake mushrooms provide a substantial amount of the essential mineral copper.

Per 100 grams, dried mushrooms contain 258% of the daily value for this essential mineral. For 100 grams of fresh, cooked mushrooms, this provision is 45% (1, 2).

Copper plays a role in various biological functions, and it is known to be essential for developing and maintaining a healthy immune system (9).

Furthermore, copper deficiency has strong links to cardiovascular disease in animal studies. However, more research is necessary to determine if this is also true for humans (10, 11).

Picture of shiitake mushrooms.4. Provide a Source of Vitamin D

Shiitake mushrooms grown naturally under the sun contain a decent source of vitamin D.

However, this will not be the case if the mushrooms were grown indoors using a grow kit and lamp.

While many sources state that shiitake mushrooms only contain the (inferior) vitamin D2, this is not technically true.

In fact, when the mushrooms have access to UV rays, studies show that they also produce some vitamin D3, which is the most bioavailable form of the vitamin (12).

Additionally, in contrast to claims about supplemental forms of vitamin D2, obtaining the vitamin from mushrooms seems to be effective at raising plasma levels of vitamin D.

In one randomized study featuring 30 adults, a daily dose of 2000 IU vitamin D2 from mushrooms effectively raised plasma vitamin D. Overall; levels increased significantly (by more than 50%) over a 12-week period (13).

How Much Vitamin D Is In Shiitake Mushrooms?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to confidently estimate how much vitamin D is in shiitake mushrooms, as this can significantly vary depending on the level of sun exposure (if any).

However, vitamin D concentrations can sometimes be extremely high.

For instance, dried shiitake mushrooms grown with full sun exposure may offer amounts as high as 46,000 IU per 100 grams.

Key Point: Shiitake mushrooms are one of the best food sources of vitamin D.

5. They Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

A variety of research shows that shiitake mushrooms contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers believe these anti-inflammatory effects are due to compounds such as ergothioneine and polysaccharides (14, 15).

However, nuance is again required. A particular food having anti-inflammatory properties is distinctly separate from being proven at reducing inflammation in humans.

While some studies (in vivo and in vitro) show evidence that shiitake mushrooms modestly decrease inflammation in human subjects, further evidence is needed (16, 17, 18).

6. Anti-Bacterial Properties

In one study, an extract of shiitake mushrooms exhibited strong antimicrobial activity against 85% of bacteria tested against (19).

Other studies demonstrate that shiitake’s antimicrobial activities are effective against a wide range of mold, yeasts, and fungi (20, 21).

That said, it is difficult to ascertain what (if any) demonstrable positive effect this could have on human health.

Key Point: Shiitake mushrooms have proven antimicrobial properties, but the relevance to human health is uncertain.

7. Meaty (and Delicious) Taste

Shiitake mushrooms taste amazing.

These mushrooms are incredibly flavorful, and they have a meaty and spongy flavor and texture.

Also, they do an excellent job of soaking up flavors, and they will take on some of the taste of what they are being cooked alongside.

As a result of this, shiitake mushrooms sometimes play a part in vegetarian and vegan meat replacements.

Interestingly, they even supply a rare non-animal source of vitamin B12 (though only in trace amounts).

Types of Shiitake Mushrooms

Several Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms Upside Down.

For those who do not know about these mushrooms, there are several available options if you want to give them a try.

Fresh

I think the mushrooms taste better in their fresh state, and they have a more enjoyable texture.

Depending on location, you may be able to find these in a local supermarket or grocery store.

If not, it is worth checking in any local Chinese or Korean (or general East Asian) stores.

Dried

Compared to the fresh mushrooms, dried shiitake mushrooms have a more concentrated flavor, and they are slightly chewier.

On the positive side, they also provide a much higher concentration of vitamins and minerals.

It should be easy to find shiitake mushrooms in a Chinese or Korean store.

However, they are also available online if anyone has difficulty sourcing them.

Powder and Pill Supplements

It is also possible to buy extracts of shiitake mushrooms in supplemental form.

These options provide a highly concentrated source of the compounds in the mushrooms.

Since the supplements are a little expensive, I would personally opt for the whole dried mushrooms rather than supplements.

However, a range of supplements can be found here.

Key Point: We can buy shiitake mushrooms in various forms; it is probably better to buy the whole food version since they are better value and likely healthier.

How To Use Shiitake Mushrooms in Cooking

Firstly, there is no real limitation on how we can use these mushrooms.

They work well with a range of dishes, and it is possible to;

  • Boil them
  • Put the mushrooms in a stew
  • Use them to make a mushroom soup
  • Swap out your regular mushrooms and use them with a bacon and egg breakfast
  • Saute in butter and use them as a side dish with meat
  • Add them to a beef or chicken stir-fry

Fresh shiitake mushrooms taste delicious after sauteing them with a bit of butter.

That said, they taste great no matter what you cook them with.

How To Use Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Cooking with dried shiitake mushrooms is a little different to using the fresh form.

Since they are very hard, these dried mushrooms need soaking to allow them to rehydrate.

To do this, put them in a bowl and cover in water. As the mushrooms re-hydrate, the water levels will fall, so be sure to use a decent amount of water.

After a minimum soaking time of one hour, the mushrooms will be soft and ready to use for cooking.

Note: if you need to re-hydrate the mushrooms quickly, then cover them with boiling water. Doing this will reduce the soaking time to around 20 minutes or so.

Once the mushrooms are soft, they can be used in the same ways as the fresh variety.

Key Point: Shiitake mushrooms taste delicious in a wide range of dishes, but the dried form needs soaking in water before using them in cooking.

Final Thoughts

Shiitake mushrooms are delicious and nutrient-dense, and they may have an assortment of interesting benefits.

Whether its the fresh or dried mushrooms does not matter, and they are both healthy choices.

All in all, these mushrooms may add a lot to the average diet – in terms of both taste and nutritional value.

Related Articles

9 Delicious Types of Edible Mushrooms

Enoki Mushrooms: the Delicious Low-Carb “Noodle”

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of